On February 28, 2020, a group of hooded individuals engaged in a violent and destructive protest on the campus of the Industrial University of Santander (UIS).
It is unclear who the group of individuals are or what they were protesting. The group reportedly closed several entrances to the UIS campus and forced students and faculty to vacate. One individual reportedly stole a police officer’s motorcycle, drove it to the entrance of the UIS campus, and set it on fire. The group of individuals reportedly clashed with police. Ultimately, UIS suspended all academic activity for the remainder of the day.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a campus protest. While students and members of the public have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise their rights peacefully and responsibly. State and university authorities have a responsibility to prevent and respond to violent attacks on students, including by investigating and holding perpetrators of such attacks accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such attacks threaten academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.